'Whiz Kid' McNamara Could Not Escape Vietnam

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2009 3:58 PM CDT
Robert McNamara in 2001.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Robert McNamara led many careers but will be best remembered for his time as secretary of defense during the Vietnam War. Though he privately disagreed with some decisions, he maintained a public optimism about “McNamara’s War” that earned him derision, Reuters reports. Describing the impact of the war that got away for Newsweek, Evan Thomas writes: “He was a man who wanted to, needed to, be in control. And he could not be that man—no one can.”

Birch Bayh describes the almost tragic circumstances of McNamara’s time at the Pentagon.  “He did the best he knew how to do," the former senator tells Politico. "He had no military experience himself and was relying on people on the ground. They gave him very bad information and he acted on it. But who do you turn to at that point?” Until the end, Thomas writes, McNamara struggled with "the balance sheet of his life."